Spinout opportunity aims to create new Strep A vaccines

Spinout opportunity aims to create new Strep A vaccines

A new University of Dundee spinout opportunity hopes to create vaccines against Strep A as well as novel vaccines for other human and animal diseases, while reducing our reliance on antibiotics. 

RHAPSEDA was founded by Dr Helge Dorfmueller, from Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, who brings his considerable research expertise and networks to the company’s innovative vaccine development platform. 

RHAPSEDA has already won funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin Out Programme (HGSP) in recognition of its potential to drive employment in the region while addressing the national and international need to create new vaccines for human and animal diseases. 

Using this funding, the University appointed Gillian Brown as Commercial Champion for RHAPSEDA in 2021 to drive opportunities with the aim of spinning out officially in 2024. 

The RHAPSEDA technology makes use of new processes that have been developed for the creation of ‘glycoconjugate’ vaccines. These types of vaccines are one of our most effective means of combating infections but are expensive to create. The RHAPSEDA platform will improve efficiency, drive down cost, and enable the development of the world’s first affordable Strep A glycoconjugate vaccine. 

Strep A causes more than 700 million infections across the world each year and is one of the ten most common causes of death, killing more than 500,000 people annually. No vaccine currently exists, so antibiotics are essential for effective treatment. The recent Strep A outbreak that claimed the lives of several children in the UK highlights how important it is to develop novel technologies and vaccines against these infections, while reducing the reliance on antibiotics. 

Gillian said, “RHAPSEDA represents a step change in glycoconjugate vaccine development offering scope to develop a range of affordable vaccines, including Strep A, which has been a source of great concern in recent months. 

“Our ambition is to build a global vaccine development business in Dundee, creating high-value employment in a company with international reach. We are already developing significant commercial and scientific relationships across the globe from Europe to the US and South Korea. We look forward to building on these relationships this year and bringing international investment into vaccine development in Scotland.”

The potential of the bioeconomy to grow the number of companies providing high-quality jobs locally while achieving global impact was highlighted when the Dundee Partnership published its new City Plan this month. In it, the Partnership commits to delivering the Tay Cities Deal and continuing to work to develop the Life Sciences Innovation District to help deliver its vision of a strong, creative, smart and sustainable city economy with jobs and opportunities for all. 

Professor Sir Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences and co-lead of the Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project, said, “The University, Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise and other partners are committed to developing a regional Life Sciences Innovation District - and the Tay Cities Deal is critical in laying its foundations.  

“The Life Sciences Innovation District will help create and retain more high-growth life sciences companies from our outstanding research base. It will also attract other companies into the region. We can expect a significant boost to our local economy and exciting employment opportunities for our citizens.” 

Leah Pape, Head of High Growth Services at Scottish Enterprise, said, “It’s great to see that, with the help of our HGSP funding, RHAPSEDA has now appointed a commercial champion and continues to forge ahead with its important work, which could revolutionise the way infections like Strep A are treated.

“The company has strong global growth potential, the ability to generate high-value employment for Scotland and is a fantastic asset for the Tay Cities region in its drive to create a life sciences innovation district.”